Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on Religion in Democracy.

December 16, 1940

Dear Sam:

Please convey my best wishes to your co-workers in the Jewish Education Committee of New York, at the annual Hanukkah Dinner. Please tell them for me how much I believe in the value of their endeavors to extend and improve religious education among the children and youth of the Jewish faith in your city.

Our modern democratic way of life has its deepest roots in our great common religious tradition, which for ages past has taught to civilized mankind the dignity of the human being, his equality before God, and his responsibility in the making of a better and fairer world.

Everywhere in the world there are men of stout heart and firm faith now engaged in a great spiritual struggle to test whether that ancient wisdom is to endure, or whether it must give way to the older, discarded doctrine that some few men shall dominate multitudes of others and dictate to them their thinking, their religion, their living. This conflict has found its most terrible expression in a war which has now engulfed a large portion of humanity. In its more peaceful aspects, the same struggle also pervades all efforts of men of good will who are seeking through democracy the way to the world to come.

In teaching this democratic faith to American children, we need the sustaining, buttressing aid of those great ethical religious teachings which are the heritage of our modern civilization. For "not upon strength nor upon power, but upon the spirit of God" shall our democracy be founded.

I hope that your Committee and all American citizens will continue to strive to bring a new, fresh vigor into the teaching and lessons of religion for the children of our beloved land.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable Samuel I. Rosenman,


Jewish Education Committee,

New York, N. Y.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Religion in Democracy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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